10 sep 2015

Intervju med Thomas Zellman, PDF Association, om PDF/A


Dokumentinfo fick en möjlighet att ställa några frågor till Thomas Zellman om PDF/A. Thomas har under lång tid varit engagerad i PDF Association. Han deltar som föredragshållare i Dokumentinfos seminarium den 3 november om PDF/A

Dokumentinfo: Can you describe PDF Association, the members of the organizations and what the organization currently is doing.

Thomas Zellman: The PDF Association exists to promote the adoption and implementation of International Standards for PDF technology. The international association has more than 150 members worldwide. There are Competence Centers for the various PDF standards like PDF/A, PDF/UA, PDF/VT and PDF itself. Here, the PDF experts discuss technical topics and work actively in the ISO standard committees. For user information, the PDF Days Europe and the PDF Technical Conference are the major yearly events plus a lot of regional events where the PDF Association takes part.

More info here:

Dokumentinfo: The PDF Association have been working with PDF/A since 2006. Can you describe how PDF/A have been developed since then?

Thomas Zellman: PDF/A as ISO standard for longterm archiving was the starting point and PDF/A is widely adopted since 2006. Very often, users started with scanned documents like in digital mailrooms or in digitization projects as this is an easy start where PDF/A delivers immediate benefits like
Color scanning, high compression and full text searchability via OCR.
Following user projects used PDF/A as archive format for digital documents, especially
E-Mail conversion to PDF/A.

Dokumentinfo: Are PDF/A more widely used now than before? Where in the world is the format most widely used?

Thomas Zellman: The acceptance and usage varies between countries and industries. From my german point of view, the german speaking countries have adopted PDF/A very well.
In Europe, the BeNeLux region and Sweden plus Scandinavia are also innovative countries where PDF/A is used, recommended or even required e.g. in government.
In the US, the acceptance is more driven by industries and highly-regulated industries like
Energy-nuclear and pharma use PDF/A. The US Courts require PDF/A for case filing.
Asia is still somewhat behind from the PDF/A point of view.
Dokumentinfo: What challenges with PDF/A can you suppose?

Thomas Zellman: The only technical reason, we have seen over the years, not to deploy PDF/A were
Viewers in ECM systems. If the Viewer can not even display PDF, PDF/A is also not possible.

There is no real ‘competition’ on the file format side but some users still use TIFF as good enough. TIFF is a simple raster-pixel format which was totally ok 20 years ago but nowadays,
TIFF is not state-of-art and misses a lot of valuable functions which are included in PDF/A.

In the mobile world with smartphones, there is an ongoing discussion whether a
PDF file is the best for displaying on small screens.
PDF/A is still a good document in the central archive but techniques like
HTML-5 conversion on-the-fly for mobile devices are useful options.

Dokumentinfo: What news concerning PDF/A can you foresee within the near future?

Thomas Zellman: There is an ongoing discussion in the ISO groups and there maybe some extensions but after
10 years of the PDF/A standard, the functionality and the integrated user feedbacks made
PDF/A a very stable and reliable document format.

The ‘news’ these days are typically more in the application areas like for example:

Electronic invoicing is currently a hot topic in the EU and many european countries are working on this. In Germany, ZUGFeRD has been defined as standard for e-Invoicing.
ZUGFeRD deploys PDF/A-3 as file format which gives an image of the invoice as PDF part and the machine readable data is embedded as XML file.

PDF/A-3 with embedding files allows for hybrid archiving of documents and
E-Mail conversion with a longterm safe PDF representation of the mail plus the
Embedded original E-Mail attachments is another very good use case.